AVON LAKE - The 8th Annual Empty Bowls by the Lake benefit will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 12 at the American Legion Post 211 in Avon Lake.
Attendees receive a simple meal: soup from a local restaurant in a hand-painted pottery bowl made locally just for this event. In return for the donation, they leave with the bowl to remind them of all the empty bowls in the world.
Empty Bowls by the Lake has become an annual tradition for potters, art teachers, their students and community members who create the ceramic bowls. Students and teachers from more than 10 area schools, including Avon, Avon Lake, Bay Village, North Ridgeville, Olmsted Falls and Westlake participate. Each year, about 30 students from Lake Ridge Academy in North Ridgeville also participate.
It also gets restaurants involved because they donate at least 5 gallons of their signature soup, which includes chili, lobster bisque and chicken paprikash. So far, 25 local restaurants are participating. Organizers are seeking more.
Empty Bowls began in Michigan in 1990 to help those in need of food. It was started by John Hartom, a high school teacher, his wife, Lisa Blackburn, and Hartom’s students in Bloomfield Hills. They made bowls for a fundraiser serving soup and bread with the proceeds helping food banks. Their movement grew and now is held throughout the United States. The event in Avon Lake will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank, Community Resource Services of Avon/Avon Lake and Lorain County Community College’s Commodore Cupboard.
Avon Lake resident Laura Kircher, who has overseen the event the last eight years, said she decided to launch a local Empty Bowls benefit after attending one in Florida when she was visiting her parents.
"A lot of hard work goes into this every year, but it's a lot of fun," Kircher said. "It's great to see the community come together and take pride in the making of the bowls or the restaurants who are generous to donate the soups. It's an event that people look forward to every year."
There are 44,000 Lorain County residents who are "food insecure," meaning they do not know where their next meal is coming from, or having to make the choice of paying a utility bill or for food, Kircher said.
Adult tickets cost $20. Children ages 6 through 12 accompanying an adult donor may participate for a $5 donation (bowl not included). The event is free for children 5 and younger.
Last year, Empty Bowls by the Lake donated $13,000 to the local food banks. Leftover soup is donated to Grace's Kitchen in Vermilion.
Music will be provided by the Avon Electric Orchestra and local musician Brittany Davidson.
To help raise money, Lowes in Avon has donated a Cleveland Browns tailgating package that includes a deluxe grill and two lower-bowl tickets for the Browns and Miami Dolphins game on Nov. 24 for the event’s raffle. There's also a chance to win a Put-in-Bay getaway weekend. Raffle tickets cost $10 each and can be purchased through the nonprofit organization's Facebook page, Empty Bowls By the Lake. People interested in volunteering can register on the Facebook page. Empty Bowls hopes to make raffle tickets available at local sports bars or restaurants prior to the event.
Nineteen of the 25 restaurants are from Cleveland’s western suburbs, including Avon, Avon Lake, Rocky River and Westlake. Restaurants from Ohio City, Put-in-Bay and Cuyahoga Falls also will participate.
"We're looking forward to the event and hoping for it to be another success so we can continue to help those in need," Kircher said.
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